Margaret Anne (Gnagy) Buchholz (nee Williams) tumbled into this world with a smile on her face when she was born to Leona Anna (d. 1988) and Walter Lee (d. 1952) Williams at Highland Lake, just west of Platteville, Colorado, on April 22, 1931. In short measure, bouncing black curls covered her head which filled with stories. Her eyes twinkling, she loved sharing those happy smiles and sometimes exaggerated tales (especially over dessert) her whole life which ended, and she was brought to her forever home by her Lord and Savior, last Sunday, January 6, 2013.
Margaret shared so much more across those years: her talent as a seamstress, her beautiful voice in many choirs, her enthusiasm for sport (both as an athlete and observer), her compassion as a caretaker, her attention to detail as a worker, and most of all her unending love for her family and friends.
She was number ten of fourteen children in a combined family, and the oldest of her full siblings: Bobby Ray (d. 1932), Barbara (d. 2005), Ronald, and Janet. She was preceded in death by half siblings: Jane, Virginia, and Burns (Bratton); and Austin, Jesse, Vernon, Bruce, Dudley, and Denver (Williams).
As a child, her family moved often in the 1930s. Her written accounts of each place they lived, each younger sibling born, and every adventure had were always fond and joyous memories, and of family that lived well and happy in hard times. Whether the roof leaked in heavy Texas rain, the wood stove burned in the hot Oklahoma summer, the barn was cramped living in Platteville, or everyone waited their turn for the outhouse in Denver, "Mama" always had a spoonful of sugar saved from rations for birthdays, her older sisters had paper dolls ready to play with, her younger sisters were always in tow (or bringing home stray cats), and her brothers younger and older were always ready to run wild games in the street.
Known as Maggie to many, she spent her teenage years developing life-long friendships with her Skinner Middle and North High School classmates. Their adventures and travels together, their shared activities across the decades, and their visits in recent years and weeks were among her greatest treasures.
In those years too, Margaret began to enrich her life beyond her home and neighborhood. She recognized the larger community in which she lived, whether in witnessing the lights coming on in Denver after World War II, by going to work (first as a soda jerk), or graduating in 1949. Perhaps more profoundly, it was then that her commitment to God was realized, and she was baptized at age 18 becoming a member of Asbury Methodist Church. Her faith grew with her throughout her life, and her dedication to service in the Lutheran church (first at Emmaus and later at Bethlehem) and support of Christian education was known to all of her acquaintances.
Romance visited Margaret when she was a young adult, and not long after meeting Hugh Vernon Gnagy (d. 1973), they fell in love and were married February 14, 1954. While Hugh was in the military, they moved often, both on and off-base, living for some time in Mississippi and Ohio before settling in Denver, Colorado. Along the way they brought four children into their family inside of five years, they were delivered in four different hospitals, and three different cities: Scott (b. 1956), Steve (b. 1958), Shawn (b. 1960), and Nancy (b. 1961). It was almost a decade later that their youngest son, Stanford (b. 1970) would be delivered in the same hospital as his sister.
Margaret was a delighted homemaker and mother, and really, she made everything: food, clothes, curtains, schedules, and fun-all with a lot of love. She kept the family camping, doing chores, going to church, and playing ball. She was deeply caring and gentle whenever anyone was sick (or even just tired), putting on (or taking off) band aids, or helping with homework. When Hugh's life ended unexpectedly, Margaret was strong and loving, and continued to make a wonderful home for her young children.
Eventually, those young children grew up, and each of them grew her family. With their spouses, they brought her 14 grandchildren: Zach, Hannah; Mandy, Steven, Guy, Denise; Brandon, Shelbey; Cory, Chris, Jamie, Erin; Simon, and Sebastian. By all accounts, Margaret was an even more delighted grandmother.
Through the 1970s, Margaret's bouncing black curls turned to shining silver, and then even (surprisingly to some) a brilliant blonde. Her collars got bigger, and her glasses smaller (and then bigger again). She made a career as Emmaus Lutheran School secretary, and later as a land-lease analyst in Colorado's then booming oil and gas industry. As the decade closed she ushered her first four children through Lutheran schools, into adulthood, and out of the house.
Exchanging glances from nearby pews at Emmaus, what divination brought Margaret and Raymond Harold Buchholz (d. 2002) together was perfected in their loving relationship, and they were married October 3, 1981. This union again grew Margaret's family, adding two stepchildren: Jan (b. 1954), and Julie (b. 1958), each of them adding more grandchildren: Kylene, Kira, and Shauna.
Play best describes the life and retirement shared between Maggie and Ray; they enjoyed golf, tennis, dancing, and travels-splitting some of their time between homes in Colorado and Arizona, always among friends. Together they managed to keep up with Margaret's youngest, and too moved him to adulthood, and out of the house. They also worked together to make a home for the holidays, and spoil all 17 grandchildren.
Experiencing effects of Alzheimer's disease, Margaret's condition was confirmed by diagnosis in 2005-with bravery and strength, living as fully as possible through the following years. She now lives eternally, again whole and complete, with her Heavenly Father.
Another generation begins as the 21st century brings a handful of great-grandchildren to Margaret, and she passes her smiles and her stories to them (and us) all.
And her well-lived life to an end.
Her family, Scott and Suke, Steve and Veronica, Shawn, Nancy and Mark, and Stanford and Colleen, is grateful for your love, support, and prayers. They also especially appreciate the extraordinary and caring staff at Atria Inn of Lakewood.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family respectfully requests that contributions be made to The Bethlehem Scholarship Fund (for Lutheran elementary, high school, and college/seminary students), call 303-238-7676 or visit bethlehemfullyalive.com
; or to the Alzheimer's Association – Colorado, call 800-272-3900 or visit alz.org/co.